March 9–July 10, 2016: the macLYON presents the first French retrospective devoted to the work of Yoko Ono. Entitled Yoko Ono: Lumière de L’aube, the show brings together more than a hundred works, from the illustrated poems of 1952 to the big installations of 2016, encompassing performance, instructions, film, music, and writing. Faithful to the spirit of Yoko Ono’s work, the exhibition can be seen, be heard, and above all, be experienced.

In a little less than seven years, from October 1955 to May 1962, between New York and Tokyo, Yoko Ono broadened the ambit of the visual arts to cover hitherto unexplored areas. By using the body, by probing the status of the original, by identifying with the present and the incomplete, and by inviting all and sundry to join in and create or interpret her scores, she was effectively writing a new page in the history of art. Her pionnering role in the development of conceptual art and performance art as well as her influence in the creation of the Fluxus “spirit” have been internationally acknowledged. Text and text-scores, instructions, sound, stage, collectives, and multiple versions opened incredible vistas for her, which she broadened and developed in her subsequent works.
Yoko Ono’s entire oeuvre exists between these two ideals whose obviousness was for a long time held to be naive: Yes and Imagine.
As Yoko’s work contains time within itself, this retrospective does not operate in chronological order, even though the dialogue opens with Instruction Paintings. And, because the visual art contains sound, or vice versa, Yoko’s music has not been in any way “isolated” in the exhibition space in order for it to be heard. On the contrary, it radiates from the walls. Because the original, in its generally accepted sense, is no longer an original for Yoko but rather a beginning—that is to say the diagram of a story to be experienced—we have given preference to versions of the works that can be experienced by a wide public. This is the lesson Yoko Ono teaches us, a lesson in experimentation and sharing.
For Lyon’s show, Yoko Ono has chosen the title Lumière de L’aube. It is generic, in so far as lumière (light) is one of the keywords of her oeuvre. At the same time, it is rooted in the city’s history because it inevitably recalls that strange invention, which its creators, the Lumière Brothers, predicted would never catch on, namely, the cinema. And for such a young work, Yoko Ono’s, this title is a beautiful beginning, a very nice opening.
Co-curators: Jon Hendricks, Thierry Raspail.

More information: It was during the “soirées” at 112 Chambers Street that Yoko presented her first “Instruction Paintings”: Smoke Paintings, Painting To Be Stepped On, Shadow Piece, and Pea Piece, Add Color Painting. She wrote about these in 1966: “Instruction Painting separates painting into two different functions : the instructions and the realization. The work becomes a reality only when others realize the work. Instructions can be realized by different people in many different ways. This allows infinite transformation of the work that the artist himself cannot foresee, and brings the concept of ‘time’ into painting”. It is clear from this that Yoko Ono considers that her œuvre is expressly designed to be definitively uncompleted, to be capable of being performed by anyone and of being reworked over time, and re-performed on any occasion. And it follows that, since they can be performed anywhere and at any time.

So over the course of 6 years and 8 months, almost by sleight of hand, Yoko Ono brought about a veritable Copernican revolution. Her ideas of text and text-score, instructions, sound, stage, collectives and multiple versions opened incredible vistas for her, which she would go on to broaden and develop in her subsequent works.We have every reason to wonder why Yoko Ono was thought of (particularly in Europe) as playing a minor role, when she so clearly exerted a major influence on the creation of the Fluxus “spirit” (which she refused to identify with, however). Yes and Imagine suited her well enough.
These days, her work is essential viewing ; it is utterly relevant.

We expect to present an exhibition that would be totally faithful to the work and in harmony with the principle of the instructions, and that would respect its “spirit”.
For Lyon’s show, Yoko Ono has chosen the title Lumière de L’aube. It is generic, in so far as Lumière (Light) is one of the keywords of her œuvre. At the same time, it is rooted in the city’s history because it inevitably recalls that strange invention, which its creators, the Lumière Brothers, predicted would never catch on, namely, the cinema. And for such a young work, Yoko Ono’s, this title is a beautiful beginning, a very nice opening.